Everything You Need to Know about Elder Abuse in New York Including Elder Financial Abuse
According to census data, New York is the home to 3.2 million seniors . 16% of the population is 65 or older. Hundreds of thousands of these folks are in nursing homes, assisted living residences or receiving home care. Even those that remain home and independent have a higher likelihood of falling victim to scams and financial fraud.
There is a point when almost everyone needs help carrying for themselves. Some get by with the help of family members while others rely on home care. For others, the choices may include an assisted living facility, adult day care, dementia care placement, hospice or a skilled nursing facility (nursing home). We should be comfortable in our golden years and family members should share that same comfort, knowing that their loved one is in good hands.
Unfortunately, there are a few bad actors out there. People ready to financially exploit the elderly, greedy relatives willing to steal from a loved one or nursing homes more interested in making profits instead of patient care.
That is where elder abuse land nursing home neglect lawyers can help. In the paragraphs below we examine the laws in New York regarding nursing home abuse, financial exploitation and legal protections for seniors. Although we use the words “elder” and “senior” throughout, in many cases these laws protect other care dependent adults of any age.
Elder abuse and neglect are illegal in the Empire state. New York law covers a wide variety of conduct involving seniors. These laws include:
- Illegal use of chemical and physical restraints (medical necessity test)
- Unreasonable confinement
- Physical harm or abuse
- Sexual assault or abuse
- Sexual harassment
- Depriving a patient of adequate care, food, water or medication
- Undue influence or coercion
- Taking property (stealing)
- Financial exploitation
Worried that you or a loved one is the victim of serious abuse or neglect, contact us online or by phone at 833.201.1555 (toll free). All inquiries are protected by the attorney – client privilege and kept confidential.
New York Nursing Home Patients Have Rights!
Both federal and New York State give nursing home residents important legal rights. These rights include:
- dignity, respect and a comfortable living environment
- quality of care and treatment without discrimination
- freedom of choice to make your own, independent decisions
- be informed in writing about services and fees before you enter the nursing home
- the safeguard of your property and money
- appeal a transfer or discharge with the New York State Department of Health
- privacy in communications
- choose your own schedule, activities and other preferences that are important to you
- receive visitors of your choosing at the time of your choosing (As we learned from the coronavirus pandemic, the state can suspend the right to receive visitors in an emergency.)
- an easy-to-use and responsive complaint procedure
- be free from abuse including verbal, sexual, mental and physical abuse
- be free from restraints (unless medically necessary)
- exercise all of your rights without fear of reprisals
How Do I Sue a Nursing Home in New York?
Although it is possible to sue for nursing home abuse and neglect anywhere in the United States, New York is one of the few states that has a specific statutory remedy for these cases. New York Public Health Law section 2801-d provides a method for calculating minimum damages, allows punitive damages, provides for legal fees and has a lower burden of proof. It also allows the victim to seek pursue other claims such as negligence or medical malpractice.
Punitive damages are available in cases where the jury or court finds there was “willful or reckless” disregard of the patient’s rights. We are aware of one case in which a 76 year old man was so badly neglected that he was found to have 20 bedsores. A jury awarded $15 million in punitive damages on top of the multimillion dollar award for pain and suffering.
Monetary damages in New York nursing home abuse cases can awarded for:
- Medical Expenses (current and future)
- Pain and Suffering
- Emotional Distress and Mental Anguish
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life
- Shortened Life Expectancy
- Loss of Companionship
- Punitive damages may be available when the wrongdoers conduct is willful or reckless
Let one of our nursing home abuse lawyers can help you determine what your case is worth.
Two Special Reports Only on Elder Law!
Are New York Nursing Homes “Death Pits”? (coronavirus post) and Special Investigation – Candida Auris Nursing Home Outbreaks in New York . We have many more posts discussing specific nursing homes, use our search feature on the website to access additional New York state specific content.
New York Assisted Living Facility Resident Rights
Licensed skilled nursing facilities obviously provide a higher level of care. Assisted living facilities, however, fill in an important gap for those folks who need a little more assistance with daily living but not the specialized advance care of a nursing home.
In New York, assisted living facilities are regulated by the Department of Health , the same agency that oversees nursing homes. New York State defines an assisted living facility (sometimes called an assisted living residence) as a facility that provides housing, meals, monitoring and assisted with daily living activities.
New York has three levels of assisted living.
Basic means a residential program for people who are medically stable. Residents may visually or hearing impaired; may require some assistance with toileting, bathing, grooming, dressing or eating; can walk or use a wheelchair alone or occasionally with assistance from another person, and can self-transfer; and do not have a medical condition that requires 24-hour skilled nursing and medical care.
The next level is called Enhanced Assisted Living. This is for folks who require assistance getting out of a chair, need the assistance of another to walk or use stairs, need assistance with medical equipment, or need assistance to manage chronic urinary or bowel incontinence.
Special Needs assisted living is available for residents that have particular needs that can be provided outside a nursing home. The most common example are residences that specialize in providing for care for those in the early stages of dementia.
Residents in assisted living facilities have plenty of rights. Those rights include:
- The right to privacy including private communications with family and medical providers
- The right to manage their own financial affairs
- The right to receive visitors
- The right to freely come and go
- The right to have to receive “adequate and appropriate” assistance with daily living activities
- The right to refuse medications
Why are there differences between patients in nursing homes and assisted living facilities?
The obvious difference is the level of care required. Nursing homes – known as skilled nursing facilities – offer a much higher range of healthcare services and operate more like hospitals.
Signs of Elder Abuse and Neglect
Elder abuse occurs when someone harms, neglects or exploits an older or care dependent person. There are usually warning signs, however many victims are too afraid or embarrassed to report being abused. This is especially true if the victim is dependent on the care giver or the care giver is a family member.
The warning signs include:
- Dehydration / malnutrition not related to medical condition
- Unexplained weight loss
- Poor hygiene
- Unsanitary/unsafe living conditions
- Bedsores (There is never an excuse for bedsores. See our post “Can I Sue a Nursing Home for Bedsores” for more information)
- Bruises, cuts, or welts
- Falling (Falls are mostly preventable, frequent falls in a facility is a red flag of poor care and understaffing)
- Vaginal bleeding, genital bruises or sexually transmitted disease)
- Broken bones
- Refusal or reluctance to see a physician for injuries
- Frightened or withdrawn
- Depression or sudden change in mood
- Signs of excessive drugging (so called “chemical restraints” in nursing homes)
- Refusal to speak
- Unexplained withdrawals from bank accounts
- Sudden new “friend” (sometimes a sign of financial exploitation)
- Unpaid bills
- Missing financial documents
For more information, contact us online or by phone at 833.201.1555 (toll free). All inquiries are protected by the attorney – client privilege and kept confidential. For more on the types cases we accept, keep reading!
New York Mandatory Abuse Reporting
Shockingly, New York is one of the few states without mandatory reporting of elder abuse and neglect. Only those working in adult protective services must report suspected abuse to law enforcement. There is no requirement for others to report nor is there a requirement that the police investigate assuming a report is made. It is therefore no surprise that less than 5% of elder abuse incidents are reported each year in New York.
Even in states with mandatory reporting, many instances of abuse and nursing home neglect are never reported. This is why it is critical for families to remain active with loved ones living in nursing homes.
Although New York doesn’t require reporting of suspected neglect, those that report it are protected from retaliation. New York Social Services Law section 473-b grants immunity to anyone who in good faith reports suspected elder abuse.
New York State Adult Protective Services
Although at this writing New York has yet to develop a mandatory reporting program for elder abuse, the state has a robust Adult Protective Services (APS) network. Services are mandated by state law but carried out by local providers.
Adult Protective Services involves intake, investigation and assessment of referrals of abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation of impaired vulnerable adults who live in the community.
APS workers develop services plans for eligible clients to remedy physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, financial exploitation, or to address unmet, essential needs of adults. Typically, someone assigned by APS or the local provider will respond within 3 business days to calls for assistance. The call can be from the victim himself, a caregiver, family member, law enforcement, healthcare provider or banker. Basically, anyone can call if they believe someone is in trouble or needs assistance.
In emergencies, APS usually responds within 24 hours. If a life threatening emergency exists, call 9-1-1. Law enforcement officers have the ability to get help even faster.
APS serves adults (age 18 and older) who, due to physical or mental impairments:
- are unable to protect themselves from abuse, neglect, financial exploitation or other harm; or
- have no one available who is willing and able to assist responsibly.
Although most clients are seniors, any adult who is unable to care for himself is eligible.
Services provided (directly or through referral) may range from safety monitoring, referrals to other service providers (health, mental health, aging, etc.), assistance in obtaining benefits, informal money management, to appointment as a representative payee, to petitioning a court for appointment as a guardian or for some other legal intervention.
A list of service providers appears at the end of this article.
Background Checks for Direct Care Givers in New York
Licensed healthcare professionals in New York (e.g. nurses) undergo background checks by the agency that licenses them. Non-licensed healthcare workers that provide home healthcare, work in adult care facilities and nursing homes also must undergo background checks if involved in direct care of patients.
New York Law on Guardianship
Guardianship is a legal arrangement where a court gives a person the legal right to make decisions for another person who is unable to make decisions for herself.
In New York, when adults have intellectual or developmental disabilities, guardianships are handled in the Surrogate’s Court. If an adult becomes incapacitated, the case is heard in the Supreme Court. The latter are called Article 81 guardianships.
Guardianships for incapacitated adults are quite individualized and specific to what decisions are made by the guardian and what decisions are made by the person with the disability. The court appoints a neutral court evaluator. As the eyes and ears of the Court, the court evaluator meets the person suspected of being incapacitated individual, investigates and reports whether or not a guardian should be appointed and, if so, what powers the guardian should have.
The suspected incapacitated person is always entitled to a hearing. Although guardianships are not a service we offer, we believe it is best to have a lawyer. Contact the New York State Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service for assistance in finding a lawyer.
New York Elder Financial Abuse
Much of this post is dedicated to physical abuse and neglect of New York seniors. But according to many studies, financial abuse is one of the most frequent type of abuse against older Americans. Unfortunately, it often goes unreported .
Many of those financial exploitation cases involve misuse of powers of attorney. Sometimes family members or caregivers will coerce a vulnerable senior into signing a will which redistributes assets in a way the senior never intended. A variation on that fraud involves having a senior who is incompetent sign loan applications, financial documents, wills or checks.
Many of the cases we see involve family members or caregivers involved in the deceitful conduct. Other times, however, the person committing the fraud may be a third party such as a stockbroker or banker peddling reverse mortgages.
[We handle elder financial abuse involving losses of $500,000 or more. Sometimes we can help finding other lawyers for smaller cases. For investment fraud cases or fraud involving stockbrokers in New York, we handle cases where the loss is $100,000 or more.]
Getting Help – How Do I Find an Elder Abuse Lawyer in New York?
Getting help is easy in New York. The hardest step is picking up the phone and making the call. If you or a loved one was seriously injured or died because of neglect or abuse, was hurt in a nursing home or lost $500,000 or more in a financial scam / forged or phony will, we can help.
Call us immediately. Our team and network of dedicated New York elder abuse lawyers have decades of experience fighting for the rights of seriously injured people. All inquiries are confidential and there is never a fee for the consultation.
Worried about how to pay for a lawyer. In most instances are services are provided on a contingency or success fee basis meaning you don’t owe us for our time or costs unless we recover money for you.
For more information, contact us online or by phone at 833.201.1555 (toll free). All inquiries are protected by the attorney – client privilege and kept confidential.
Have other problems? We suggest you for start with the New York Office for the Aging and the other contact numbers below.
(The information on this website if for general information only. Although presumed accurate when written, laws change frequently. Never rely on a website for legal information. Pick up the phone and call us or another lawyer. Any services provided in New York provided with or by a licensed New York lawyer.)
Important New York Resources for Seniors
- New York Adult Protective Services reporting line 1-844-697-3505 (limited hours 8:30 am to 8:00 pm. In an emergency, dial 9-1-1)
- New York Office for the Aging helpline 844-863-9314
- New York Nursing Home Complaint Hotline 888-201-4563
- Domestic Violence Hotline 800-942-6906 (in NYC, 800-621-HOPE)
- Office for the Aging Ombudsman (click link for list by region and county)
List of Adult Protective Services Providers
New York State is divided into 58 local services districts including New York City and one tribal district. At the time this list was prepared, it was believed to be accurate but service providers or numbers may change. Check the link for current information on local departments of social services .
162 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12210
Phone: (518) 447-7300
County Office Building
7 Court St.
Belmont, NY 14813-1077
Phone: (585) 268-9622
36-42 Main Street
Binghamton, NY 13905-3199
Phone: (607) 778-8850
One Leo Moss Drive, Suite 6010
Olean, NY 14760-1158
Phone: (716) 373-8065
County Office Building
160 Genesee Street, 2nd Floor
Auburn, NY 13021-3433
Phone: (315) 253-1451
Hall R. Clothier Building
Mayville, NY 14757
Phone: (716) 753-4590
Human Resource Center
425 Pennsylvania Avenue
P.O. Box 588
Elmira, NY 14902-0588
Phone: (607) 737-5309
5 Court Street and 14 West Park Place
Norwich, NY 13815
Phone: (607) 337-1500
13 Durkee Street
Plattsburgh, NY 12901-2911
Phone: (518) 565-3300
25 Railroad Avenue
P.O. Box 458
Hudson, NY 12534
Phone: (518) 828-9411
County Office Building
60 Central Avenue
Cortland, NY 13045-5590
Phone: (607) 753-5248
111 Main Street
P.O. Box 469
Delhi, NY 13753-1265
Phone: (607) 832-5300
60 Market Street
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601-3299
Phone: (845) 486-3000
Rath County Office Building
95 Franklin Street, 8th Floor
Buffalo, NY 14202-3959
7551 Court St.
P.O. Box 217
Elizabethtown, NY 12932
Phone: (518) 873-3441
184 Finney Blvd.
Malone, NY 12953
Phone: (518) 481-1888
4 Daisy Lane
P.O. Box 549
Johnstown, NY 12095
Phone: (518) 736-5640
5130 East Main Street, Suite #3
Batavia, NY 14020-3497
Phone: (585) 344-2580
411 Main Street
P.O. Box 528
Catskill, NY 12414-1716
Phone: (518) 719-3700 or Toll Free 1-877-794-9268
White Birch Lane
P.O. Box 725
Indian Lake, NY 12842-0725
Phone: (518) 648-6131
301 North Washington Street
Herkimer, NY 13350
Phone: (315) 867-1291
Human Services Building
250 Arsenal Street
Watertown, NY 13601
Phone: (315) 782-9030
5274 Outer Stowe Street
P.O. Box 193
Lowville, NY 13367
Phone: (315) 376-5400
1 Murray Hill Drive
Mt. Morris, NY 14510-1699
Phone: (585) 243-7300
Madison County Complex, Building 1
133 North Court Street
P.O. Box 637
Wampsville, NY 13163
Phone: (315) 366-2211
111 Westfall Road
Rochester, NY 14620-4686
Phone: (585) 753-6298
County Office Building
P.O. Box 745
Fonda, NY 12068
Phone: (518) 853-4646
60 Charles Lindbergh Blvd
Uniondale, NY 11553-3656
Phone: (516) 227-8519
- New York City Department of Social Services
150 Greenwich Street
Commissioner - 42nd floor / Legal - 38th floor
New York, NY 10007
Phone: Info-Line: (718) 557-1399
Outside NYC: (718) 557-1399
20 East Avenue
P.O. Box 506
Lockport, NY 14095-0506
Phone: (716) 439-7600
County Office Building
800 Park Avenue
Utica, NY 13501-2981
Phone: (315) 798-5700
John H. Mulroy Civic Center
421 Montgomery Street, 7th Floor
Syracuse, NY 13202
Phone: (315) 435-2884
3010 County Complex Drive
Canandaigua, NY 14424-1296
Phone: (585) 396-4060 or Toll Free (877) 814-6907
11 Quarry Road, Box Z
Goshen, NY 10924-0678
Phone: (845) 291-4000
14016 Route 31 West
Albion, NY 14411-9365
Phone: (585) 589-7000
100 Spring Street
P.O. Box 1320
Mexico, NY 13114
Phone: (315) 963-5000
County Office Building
197 Main Street
Cooperstown, NY 13326-1196
Phone: (607) 547-4355
110 Old Route 6
Carmel, NY 10512-2110
Phone: (845) 808-1500
127 Bloomingrove Drive
Troy, NY 12180-8403
Phone: (518) 833-6000
Robert L. Yeager Health Center
Sanatorium Road, Building L
Pomona, NY 10970
Phone: (845) 364-3100
- Saint Lawrence
Harold B. Smith County Office Building
6 Judson Street
Canton, NY 13617-1197
Phone: (315) 379-2111
- Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe
412 State Route 37
Akwesasne, NY 13655
Phone: (518) 358-2272
152 West High Street
Ballston Spa, NY 12020
Phone: (518) 884-4140
Schenectady, NY 12305
Phone: (518) 388-4470
County Office Building
P.O. Box 687
Schoharie, NY 12157
Phone: (518) 295-8334
323 Owego Street, Unit 3
Montour Falls, NY 14865
Phone: (607) 535-8303
1 DiPronio Drive
P.O. Box 690
Waterloo, NY 13165-0690
Phone: (315) 539-1800
3 East Pulteney Square
Bath, NY 14810
Phone: (607) 664-2000
3085 Veterans Memorial Highway
Ronkonkoma, NY 11779
Phone: (631) 854-9930
16 Community Lane
P.O. Box 231
Liberty, NY 12754
Phone: (845) 292-0100
1062 State Route 38
P.O. Box 240
Owego, NY 13827
Phone: (607) 687-8300
Human Services Building
320 West Martin Luther King Jr.
West State Street
Ithaca, NY. 14850
Phone: (607) 274-5680
1061 Development Court
Kingston, NY 12401-1959
Phone: (845) 334-5000
Warren Co. Municipal Center
1340 State Route 9
Lake George, NY 12845-9803
Phone: (518) 761-6300
Municipal Center, Building B
Fort Edward, NY 12828
Phone: (518) 746-2300
77 Water Street
P.O. Box 10
Lyons, NY 14489-0010
Phone: (315) 946-4881
112 East Post Road
White Plains, NY 10601
Phone: (914) 995-6521
466 North Main Street
Warsaw, NY 14569-1080
Phone: (585) 786-8900
County Office Building
417 Liberty Street, Suite 2122
Penn Yan, NY 14527-1118
Phone: (315) 536-5183